New York State Funeral Directors Association

A terminal diagnosis is not only shocking but also feels like the end of the world where you and your loved ones are concerned.

However, it is a time, too, to reflect on giving the best palliative care to a dying relative.

Having dignity while being free from pain and discomfort is the ‘best’ thing you can offer.

Choosing the right end-of-life palliative care is critical to ensure that your beloved has the best attention in a compassionate hospital setting.

Palliative Versus Hospice Care

There might be some confusion as to the difference between palliative and hospice care.

Palliative is the total care of a patient in the hospital environment.

It comprises medical, social, psychological and spiritual aspects.

A team of doctors, medical specialists and practitioners oversee the integrated care of the patient, providing comfort and freedom from pain.

A patient does not necessarily need to be terminally ill to be availed palliative care and can even opt out at any time.

In hospice care, a patient receives attention in a hospice setting such as at home, in a nursing home or in an assisted-living facility.

Any hospice care is a form of palliative intervention.

Deciding the Best Palliative Care for A Loved One

Every year, around 40 million people need palliative care, but only 14% receive this type of attention (WHO, 2017).

Early palliative care is helpful primarily to improve the quality of life of the patient and avoid unnecessary hospitalization.

Before shortlisting a hospital or medical care facility for palliative care, there are some important considerations you need to keep in mind.

A major factor is the comfort level of a patient.

The team of doctors in charge of the patient works closely together to make sure patients are comfortable and pain-free.

By talking to the patient about the pain levels being experienced, appropriate interventions are made in the form of administering painkillers.

A clean and hygienic hospital is also of the essence to prevent infections.

There are certain things that may also be withheld to make the patient relaxed and at ease.

If eating is a problem, intravenous fluids may be given.

What is clear is that distressing symptoms are alleviated to improve the quality of end-of-life.

This should be the focus of end-of-life care.

If the plan includes withdrawal of life-sustaining interventions, it will be discussed extensively with your loved one, the medical team and the family.

In other cases, there may be invasive procedures that improve the comfort level of your family member, such as thoracentesis – the removal of excess fluid to improve breathing.

Psychological, emotional and spiritual support complete the total care expected from good palliative care in a hospital.

While it may be difficult to accept that someone you dearly love is going away for a long time, alleviating their symptoms and pain must be the first concern.

A medical facility that encompasses all the aspects of palliative care is appropriate to ensure your family member is comfortable and keeps their dignity as they continue their journey.


LucyForWebLucy Wyndham
Lucy gave up a professional career in order to become a stay at home mom, freelance writer and content manager. Having had a recent loss in the family, she's reaching out to help others similarly affected.